ITD Announces the 2013 Excellence in Transportation Award Winners

Transportation Planning

The corridor plan, led by a multi-agency and consultant team, used a “bottom up” approach that helped stakeholders and public not only understand the corridor planning process, but also educated them on technical elements and allowed them to actively participate in the development and selection of alternatives.

Project: Kuna Downtown Corridor Plan

Submitting Agency:Kittelson & Associates, Inc.

Project Description:

The Ada County Highway District(ACHD), City of Kuna and Kittelson & Associates, Inc. worked together to develop the Kuna Downtown Corridor Plan. This multimodal plan identifies how residents and visitors get to, through, and around the downtown using all modes of travel. The downtown area consists of a transportation network that includes two bridge crossings over Indian Creek, two at-grade railroad crossings, several skewed intersections, and a limited bicycle and pedestrian network. Given the importance of the downtown to the community, it was essential that a broad and effective public involvement campaign be implemented.

The public involvement campaign led to the development and adoption of a community-driven, technically-sound plan for downtown Kuna. Tools included interactive online surveys that were used to solicit input on existing pedestrian and bicycle patterns/facilities and to gauge public opinion on the corridor and streetscape concepts for further evaluation. In addition, a concept evaluation workbook was used to create a customized workbook for participants to review, evaluate and score various alternatives.

Throughout the project, community members provided updates to the Ada County Highway District Commission and Kuna City Council about how excited they were to be involved in the process and opportunity to contribute to the project’s success.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Transportation Planning Category:

Design Small Project

The most hazardous slope in District Two was identified as White Bird Pass, nine miles south of Grangeville. This project helped improve the safety of the section of U.S. 95 in the pass.

Project: White Bird Pass Rockfall Mitigation

Submitting Agency:ITD District 2

Project Description:

The White Bird Pass Rockfall Mitigation project was developed rapidly and ahead of schedule with a total development cost of $64,000, which is only 3 percent of the total construction cost.

The project featured state-of-the-art modifications to a drape cable net system, which catches falling rocks. With input from neighboring states, ITD was able to apply the latest modifications to this system and was made aware of critical inspection criteria to use during construction.

The project also involved traffic control challenges. Since U.S. 95 is a vital north-south transportation link in Idaho, keeping commercial trucks and other vehicles moving was crucial. Project designers gathered public input regarding how the traffic control plan could keep commerce moving in a timely and efficient manner.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Design Large Project

This project’s design was developed to enhance other transportation modes and preserve the nature of Sand Creek. Key goals included fitting the project into the pristine area, providing connectivity from thedowntown Sandpoint area to City Beach for the public, and coordinating the byway with the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad’s future construction plans.

Project: U.S. 95 Sand Creek Byway

Submitting Agency:URS

Project Description:

The U.S. 95 Sand Creek Byway is a 2.1-mile segment of the larger U.S. 95 north/south alternative route. The byway connects the cities of Sandpoint and Ponderay as an alternate route for U.S. 95 to reduce traffic through downtown Sandpoint. It had been a topic of local interest for more than 50 years, and several alternatives were discussed in the community. ITD faced a number of challenges based on the expectations of the community and involved regulatory agencies. To address those challenges, the URS-led design team engaged the public and agencies early in the process. An extensive public participation plan was established at the onset of the design phase.

Complex components of the project included providing interchanges at each end of the byway, threading a three-lane roadway between two water bodies (Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille), preserving a historic depot, and accommodating a railroad that has plans for a future double track. During the design process, the project team successfully obtained permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Department of Lands, completed an environmental assessment and re-evaluations resulting in a Finding Of No Significant Impact, and coordinated with Burlington Northern/Santa Fe to acquire nearly 21 acres of railroad right-of-way, accommodate future railroad track construction, accommodate track access into the roadway project and obtain a construction/ maintenance agreement.

The design team added a site design specialist to help develop concepts for what aesthetic treatments might be incorporated into the project to help minimize the visual impact of the project on Sand Creek and downtown Sandpoint.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Large Design Category:


The Sand Creek Byway was built along the picturesque Sand Creek, adjacent to the heart of downtown Sandpoint. During summer months, thousands of tourists traveled through theconstruction site to access Lake Pend Oreille. The URS team designed the project to be built in this very tight location while minimizing environmental impacts.

Project: U.S. 95 Sand Creek Byway

Submitting Agency:URS

Project Description:

U.S. 95 is the only north/south highway in the 100-mile corridor between western Montana and eastern Washington and the only highway that connects northern and southern Idaho. It is the major connection between the United States and Canada in the region. The old highway alignment entered Sandpoint and merged with U.S. 2 on a one-way grid system through the Central Business District. Over 18% of the highway traffic is heavy trucks and congestion and delays were common throughout downtown Sandpoint, causing safety issues for motorists and pedestrians alike.

The U.S. 95 Sand Creek Byway is a 2.1-mile segment of the larger U.S. 95 North/South Alternative Route. The byway connects the cities of Sandpoint and Ponderay, as an alternate route for U.S. 95 to reduce traffic through downtown. It has been a topic of local interest for more than 50 years and several alternatives have been discussed in the community.

Native weak clay soils of the area were not suitable for use on the project and the majority of embankments were constructed of imported materials. The existing deep soft soils required specific designs to minimize future settlement, including installing over 1,300,000 feet of wick drains to remove water and staging construction to accelerate and complete consolidation of the clay. The timing to allow the soil settlement was critical to the entire construction schedule.

In addition, almost one mile of the Byway alignment is set on mechanically stabilized earth walls. Thesewalls were built in stages to accommodate the settlement of the native claysoils. A variety of aesthetic treatments, including rock faces, vegetated faces with irrigation systems, and decorative precast concrete panels, cover the walls.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Construction Category:

Public Participation

The project’s goal was toincorporate multi-modal design principles, making Woodside Boulevard safe for all types of users—motorists, transit passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Project: Woodside Boulevard Improvements

Submitting Firm:The Langdon Group, Inc.

Project Description:

RBCI and ITD and produced the Department’s first ’online’ public meeting with a live question and answer session. Several creative techniques to engage the public include using QR codes to communicate information electronically.

Hailey’s 35-year-old Woodside Boulevard is the second-busiest street in town. The City of Hailey was awarded a $3.5 million TIGER II grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation tomake improvements to this 2.5-mile collector.

The Langdon Group used a public involvement strategythat relied heavily on personal interactions, large-scale citizen meetings,video simulations for a proposed roundabout, and email updates to gather public comments and keep stakeholders in the communication loop. These methods helped identify issues and gauge public sentiment regarding the project. This process also provided the engineering team with critical feedback for making design changes in response to community concerns and individual property circumstances.

When complications arose, The Langdon Group and citystaff worked through those by increasing communications with stakeholders. Email served as a valuable tool for providing ongoing, timely updates. Door-to-door visits helped address property owner issues on-site. Bilingual information broadened the reach to Spanish-speaking residents.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Public Participation Category:

Environmental Stewardship

Featured nationally by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials on Earth Day 2012, the Idaho 21 Five Mile Creek Bridge Fish and Aquatic Organism Project was showcased as striking a cost-effective balance between highway and bridge needs and responsible environmental stewardship.

Project: Idaho 21 Five Mile Creek Bridge – Fish and Aquatic Organism Passage Project

Submitting Agency:ITD District - 3

Project Description:

This collaborative project consisted of the Idaho Transportation Department and United States Forest Service-Boise National Forest removing an existing 160-foot-long, 72-inch diameter metal culvert that restricted fish and aquatic organism passage. The culvert also inhibited essential physical and biological stream-river interactions and habitat linkages. The purpose of the project was to restore 7.8 square miles of overall Five Mile Creek watershed habitat and 11.6 miles of stream habitat to a more natural state by re-establishing the essential physical and biological stream-river interactions. Fish, like the native threatened and protected Bull trout and native Redband rainbow trout, directly benefited from enhanced habitat connectivity and improved spawning opportunities.

The existing topography and extreme slopes of the terrain (slopes in excess of 30 degrees) led to some difficult decisions on how to phase construction, what needed to be built, how it needed to be built and when. Construction activities, the types and quantities of fill and excavation materials, equipment, staging, traffic considerations, labor and associatedcosts were all factored into what design and construction strategies would best work. It was determined that replacing the existing culvert with a bridge would allow for a total free-span of Five Mile Creek. Half of the bridge was built at a time, allowing for traffic to continue through the area.

Built in one construction season, the project minimized impacts to the traveling public and the environment

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Environmental Stewardship Category:

Maintenance & Operations

Thenarrow roadway and the proximity to the Salmon River led to innovative designs to rebuild the shoulders of State Highway 75 to provide a safer route whileprotecting the Salmon River.

Project: SH-75 Shoulder and River Bank Stabilization

Submitting Agency:ITD District 4

Project Description:

State Highway 75 provides the main route from Ketchum to Challis through Stanley in central Idaho, and is a major recreational access for the Sawtooth NationalRecreational Area and Challis National Forest. The project consisted of re-establishing the roadway shoulder and stabilizing the adjacent river bank along the Salmon River.

Erosion was causing structural damage to the highway and, when coupled with erosion of the river bank by the Salmon River, continued to constrict the roadway. This posed a safety hazard to drivers using State Highway 75.

During construction, crews used rock hoppers to reduce impacts to drivers and prevent any future damage to the roadway. However, damage to the road surface did occur and an asphalt plant mix overlay of the road was completed by ITD Maintenance to repair the damage. The highway shoulder repair project was a success with the addition of four to six feet of shoulder with minimal encroachment on the river channel.

In the 18 months prior to construction, three crashes resulting in vehicles going down a steep embankment and into the river were caused, in part, by the narrowness of the roadway. Since the completion of the project, no vehicle crashes have occurred in the area. The project improved safety with a better shoulder while causing minimal impact to the Salmon River and minimal delays to traffic.

Contributing Agencies/Firms

Key Personnel

Additional Projects Nominated in the Maintenance & Operations Category:

ITD Career Achievement

This award recognizes an employee with 20+ years of service who has made many significant contributions and has shown extraordinary dedication to the organization and his/her peers.

Greg M. Laragan - P.E. - Highway Operations Engineer
Manager of Transportation Investments

For close to 35 years, Greg has been dedicated to the transportation industry by serving in key leadership roles in design, maintenance, traffic and highway operations at the Idaho Transportation Department. In the different engineering positions Greg has held, he has been an innovator and driver of many new initiatives. A few of his numerous achievements include:

Greg recognizes when change is necessary and has taken steps to implement positive change. His ability to grasp new technologies generated by research and implement these into practical applications that can be utilized has served ITD well.

“Greg is highly respected by his peers and the national transportation industry, particularly with traffic related issues. He exhibits a high level of integrity in his public and private life.”

ITD Engineer of the Year

An engineer who demonstrates technical or managerial excellence and makes fundamental and long-term positive impacts within the transportation industry.

Tri Buu - P.E. - State Geotechnical Engineer
Manager of Transportation Investments

For over 30 years, Tri Buu has quietly and competently steered the Idaho Transportation Department’s geotechnical program. During his career, Tri has played a lead role in almost every geotechnical decision made by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Tri’s numerous contributions are in the areas of: geotechnical support in the design and construction phases; collaborative research and technology development; and emergency response/crisis management. A few of Tri’s accomplishments include:

For over 20 years, Tri has presented case studies to the Northwest Geotechnical Workshop and Highway Geology Symposium. He was recently awarded the “Hats Off Award” for always being there when his fellow geotechnical professionals need advice or support and for demonstrating
“a positive attitude, good sense of humor and genuine enthusiasm for their work in the geotechnical field.”

Professional of the Year

A professional who shows unwavering commitment to the goals and growth of their department through technical excellence or the leadership/managerial roles they assume.

Mike Scott - District 4 Senior Right of Way Agent
Manager of Transportation Investments

Mike Scott is committed to excellence, outstanding job performance and the application of the ITD Strategic Plan in his daily work. He diligently identifies customer needs and meets or exceeds them. Mike also identifies stakeholders and their concerns, then provides responsive updates and information to those stakeholders.

Mike’s level of experience and expertise in right of way activities, consultant administration, and project management is best demonstrated during interactions with the public. He excels at listening and making members of the public comfortable in meetings and in one-on-one discussions.

“Mike is a high-value employee. His experience and education allows him to be a major contributor in finding solutions for transportation. He anticipates customer needs, has vision, and is a problem solver who has earned the respect of colleagues throughout the state. As a team-member, you will find none better!”